Erica Waskmunski, Congress
Chef David Bull knew talent when he saw it in Waskmunski, who has staged at Michelin-rated restaurants like Sons & Daughters in San Francisco and Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, California, as well as worked at places like Chez TJ in Mountain View, California. Waskmunski applied for the job as head pastry chef at Congress on a Monday night, heard from Bull on Tuesday morning and a couple days later, voila! About her desserts, the pastry chef says, “I like to end a multicourse meal on a light, palate-cleansing note. Your tongue has been bombarded, and you need to lighten it back up.” She sticks to that philosophy with desserts like her coconut-jasmine rice pudding with raspberry-lemongrass sorbet and a strawberry-lychee pâté de fruit, as well as richer dishes like a blueberry-vanilla fried pie with cinnamon toast ice cream and a gianduja semifreddo with hazelnut-praline crunch.